Fantasy baseball: Melky Cabrera's suspension

      August 15, 2012 @ 13:42:31 PDT

Turns out the "Melk man" had a little more help than dairy.

All-Star Melky Cabrera's 50-game suspension for use of testosterone crushes the San Francisco Giants organization and leaves a gaping hole for his fantasy owners, who have nothing left to do but banish him to waivers in redraft formats.

Melk doctored?

San Francisco Giants OF Gary Brown
What Brown can do for you: SB

Cabrera, who just turned 28 last week, was continuing a 2012 in which he built on his positive step taken last year in Kansas City. This was a contract-year performance that many thought would produce a mega-deal as he took the next step of his career.

A sound batting eye was getting crisper. His contact gained more authority. Though the switch-hitter's homers were on pace to drop from his 18 last year, thanks to more grounders hit, he continued his power-speed combo at levels that positioned him near the top of fantasy money earners when combined with his .346 batting average and 84 runs. Post-2010, he looked merely like a former part-timer with raw skills finally putting things together.

He still could be that promising player, considering he's had enough big-league experience where at least a fraction of what he's shown in the last two years should stick with him. Unfortunately, through what'll become a prevalently doubt-filled retroactive lens, his video-game figures from the last two years will look like a fantasy.

Correction was expected last year and during this campaign even when no one suspected this. His clip didn't top .280 in a full season before his .305 (.332 BABIP) in 2011 and his inflated but formerly accepted BA (.379 BABIP) this year.

Will the Melk spoil?

Does his future hold an overall regression? He'll probably have to settle for a "prove it to us" pact with whichever team he joins this coming offseason. This dirty deed has cost him superstar-level simoleons, but someone will take a chance on him under the notion that the skills side will beat out the supplements.

Given his leaps-and-bounds improvement this year and the perception that much of it came from PEDs, it's fair to be skeptical that he'll carry the same long-term value his recent stats used to suggest. If you're a keeper owner, you'll probably need to readjust your expectations of Melky and find more offensive help to make up for what he may lose.

An admitted PED pumper will likely experience a downturn in output, if not health, after weaning off the enhancer. How much punch will be in his lumber if it's just him? Will his bat speed noticeably suffer?

He cleared fences 18 times last year, so unless he was getting unknown help there, too, it's safe to think he can remain a five-category contributor. However, a significant portion of his stock may depend on what treads he'll don in 2013 and beyond. He hasn't hit many homers in the last two seasons in his pitcher-friendly home stadiums.

Next spring's single-year drafts will probably see him fall in the middle stanzas of mixed leagues, the same region in which his name was frequently called in this past spring's. Part of what he offered was pure, and if your opponents slap him with the Brady Anderson tag, calling Cabrera's name isn't a bad gamble if you aim for a happy medium of the last two seasons.

Giants' next moves

This boosts the playing time of Gregor Blanco, who'll likely at least see the strong side of a platoon in left field and is worth deep-mixed attention. He can offer at least a handful of stolen bases. Maybe San Fran will seek outside help. Alfonso Soriano cleared waivers, so that looks like a possibility. They could also call up highly regarded speedster prospect Gary Brown, who'd also help some dual-universe teams.

It could open up a tad more playing time for Brett Pill (and maybe Aubrey Huff, if and when he comes off the DL) depending on how they line up Brandon Belt, but they wouldn't be anything more than NL-only trials.

This is an outfield in flux heading into next year, too. Besides the looming decision on Cabrera, Hunter Pence is arbitration-eligible, and Angel Pagan is a free agent. Brown looks like a solid bet to compete for a starting job next March, at least.

For more on the future of Melky and the Giants, stay tuned to our Fantasy Baseball Hot off the Wire and daily coverage.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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